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Chapter 2 - Team Effort

As soon as his mother and brother had left, dispatched with cheery words and hugs, Conor turned to his messaging. First, a quick group note to the team, based on an email he’d received while he was visiting with his mother and brother.

Results in. In isolation, each cell is fully functional, integrative, and reproducible in manufacturing. It passed every benchmark. I’m at my workstation. Let me know as soon as you can talk.

It was news that they were waiting for. Felix, the corporate liaison, was at Conor’s desk within a minute. Conor looked up and grinned. “That didn’t take long.”

“I was already on my way when I picked up your note,” Felix replied. “I can’t imagine the rest of the team is far behind.” His tone changed to one of questioning, of hope. “It really checks out? The parameters, the functionality, the transfers, membranes, everything?”

“Everything,” Conor said. “Of course –“

He paused as Ceely rushed up. “Is it true?” she asked, a little breathlessly. “It’s done?”

Conor grinned. “Okay, I was about to say something, but if the whole team is flocking in now, let’s just wait for them to get here, and we’ll go over it together.”

Felix and Ceely were impatient but compliant. They chattered about intrigue and drama at their company’s corporate level, along with the usual talk of what the project would mean to the corporation specifically and humanity at large. But the words were a little rote, a little forced. All the impacts they could envision had already been thoroughly chewed and digested by them. There was little more flavor to extract from that emotional nourishment. Now they were eager to discuss results.

In a few minutes, Tom and Jerry walked up, showing the same angst of anticipation. The group formed a semicircle around Conor’s desk. Finally, the last member of the team, Herman, appeared.

“About time,” Felix said to Herman, his voice light. “We’ve been waiting to hear the final chapter here.”

“Not the final chapter,” Conor said. He swiveled the second screen around so the whole team had a view of the display. “If you talk in automotive terms, this is just the car design as it’s now shown to work. We still have to build the thing, run tests galore, and get it through the production process. And this will call for a lot more testing and peer review than, say, Honda’s newest gem.”

“Conor, honey, just show us the damn thing,” Ceely barked, and they all laughed.

“Very good,” Conor said and tapped the keyboard.

The next half hour was spent in graphics display, text readouts, and long tables of numbers, punctuated with excited questionings by the team, Conor running sequences of different analyses, and remarks by the other five in excited and awed tones. There finally was a break in the babble. Felix raised his hand and shook his head.

“We did it,” he said. “Sure, the work has just begun for finalization, eventual approval, and then the production end. But it’s all there. Conor, you’re a genius.”

“No, no,” Conor protested, his tone genuine. “We all had our part. In this case, the team leader cannot take the credit. We couldn’t do it without each and every one of us working on it.”

“Your grand design,” Ceely said. “We all played our part, but the genius quotient came from you.”

Conor’s face reddened. “Okay, okay, enough of that. We’ve got to discuss the next step.”

“Have you sent this on to corporate?” Tom asked.

“No,” Conor replied. “I had to share the news first with the people that matter. What do you guys think? Felix? You know the front office better than anyone else here. We’re all on the technical side, but you also bring in the corporate culture. What do you think? I know they’re anxious. What’s our next step with them?”

Felix paused in thought before answering. “Perhaps a conference room,” he said. “Let’s all sit down and talk about this. This is just too big of a moment, and the next step far too important, for us to try to approach resolution while standing around a computer screen.”

“Perfect,” Conor said. He tapped his keyboard. “Edwards Room is clear. I’ve reserved it. 30 minutes from now. I’ll go get some bagels.”

“No,” Felix said, and rested his hand on Conor’s arm. “You should be celebrating. Bagels are my treat. If it was afternoon, it’d be drinks.”

“Done,” Conor replied, and rose.

The rest of the team dispersed from Conor’s desk, with the exception of Ceely. “I’ll walk with you a bit, if that’s okay,” she said. “I was hoping to talk to you about a couple of things.”

“Always a pleasure,” he replied, pocketed his phone, and the two of them ambled away.

In each team member’s mind was the same theme: We have made a working artificial brain cell. We are about to change the world.

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